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Approval Guy is a photoshop meme that stems from a photo of a man giving a thumbs up while attending a lingerie party. The image can be also used on imageboards and discussion forums to indicate one’s approval of another post or comment. The man depicted in the photograph eventually discovered his interent fame and revealed the story behind its making on Reddit in March 2010.
One of the earliest archived mentions of Approval Guy appeared on 4chan’s /b/ (random) board in a thread titled "Conclusion to Wincest for Breakfast” posted on September 7th, 2008. In one of the last comments to the thread, a user posted an unedited Approval Guy photo with the caption “Approval Guy approves of this story!”
In an e-mail interview with Know Your Meme, the subject of the “Approval Guy” revealed that the photograph was taken by one his friends at a lingerie party in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in Spring 2008. Later that same year, the friend posted the photo to 4chan, where another anonymous user saved it and began reposting it. He also explained that the girls depicted in the picture were of age at the time and had given consent to take photographs.
On September 17th, 2008, an Approval Guy-themed photoshop thread appeared on /b/, spawning more than 150 photoshopped instances based on a cutout template of the man.
In October 2008, a collection of Approval Guy images was uploaded to 4chan photo gallery site My /b/ Folder. The same month, a GameSpot forum user posted a screenshot of his desktop with the original Approval Guy photo set as his wallpaper. The photo did not appear again until an edited version was posted to FAILblog on February 25th, 2010. Labeled as a Party Win, this version had a frowning older man seated across from Approval Guy.
Five days after the FAILblog post, Redditor IamAameme submitted a self-post titled “Hey Reddit, I’m a meme, what should I do about this?” to /r/AskReddit. In the thread, the OP (original poster) initially did not specify the meme in question, but noted that he had been recognized in real life by more than 30 people. Later on, the OP revealed that he was the Approval Guy with a never-before-seen photo from the same night as proof.
Following this Reddit thread, he made a personal website to collect all the information about the meme. His storywas also featured on Gawker as an example of how people have responded to their newfound fame as an internet meme. On July 30th, 2010, a papercraft version of the exploitable template was made available on CraftyMemes.
After running his story on Reddit, Approval Guy created a personal website to collect all the information about the meme and set up an email account to field questions from the public. He has chosen not to divulge his real name or other personal information. In an e-mail interview with Know Your Meme in November 2010, Approval Guy shared his thoughts on the meme.
Upon discovering his internet fame through his friends who saw the picture on FAILblog, he chose to go along with it and went public on Reddit, where he had been an active member since 2006. He also stated that he does not want to profit off of the photoshop meme, but would not complain if it happened. As of 2010, he had moved to New York City where he chose to distance himself from the meme, wanting to be known for something other than Approval Guy.
The Approval Guy Story: Written by Approval Guy Himself
This all started because my friends and I would go out drinking in Milwaukee during college. One weekend, the girls in the picture, whom I met two years prior in my hometown, were throwing a smaller apartment party, and they invited me and my friends. We went and it was not initially an underwear party, we got bored with the party and went out to the bars. At bar close, we received a text from the girls to come back to the party, and we wanted to drink more, so we did. Once we arrived all of the girls were in their underwear, along with one guy who eventually went into the bathroom to vomit. My friends and I were in awe that they didn’t give a shit about being in their underwear. They all seemed very comfortable and were well aware pictures were being taken.
NOTE: They are all over 18, but at this time they were under 21, which is why they could not go out to the bars.
Once we got settled into the party, my friend Joe (Not his real name) started taking pictures and they were ok with it. Then I started to pose and be ridiculous because I did not want to get into my underwear. After this we went home and didn’t think anything of it.
Two months later, my friend Joe (who took the pictures in spring of 2008) saw a thread with Natalia (the girl with her arms up), because /b/ tards apparently drool over her and stalk her on the internet. He thought it would be a good idea to post the pictures from that party. The thread was not archived, but the original Approval Guy picture was saved by a random /b/tard who continued to post it. One month after Joe posted this, threads began about Approval Guy. One of my friends called me up and said they were posting me on the internet (4chan).
NOTE: I never browsed 4chan until I found out people were posting my picture. I never have submitted anything, but I am familiar with the format and internet memes. I currently am living for the LULZ.
At first I was worried. I realized that I was not the one in my underwear, nor am I doing anything wrong. It really isn’t a big deal to me. Just some photoshopped pictures of me can be offensive to some people, but it’s a joke and shouldn’t be taken with a grain of seriousness. I really haven’t created too many pictures because I enjoy seeing what people come up with. I just accepted the Approval Guy tag and decided to go with it.
The original Approval Guy picture was posted on failblog with an old man and I was confused to how far this has gone, because everyone and their mother reads failblog. I received a lot of messages on AIM and Facebook, so I realized everyone was seeing this, but they didn’t really care and thought it was great.
The reason I posted it on Reddit is because I respect the community and I have been a member for nearly 3 years. At first I wanted to be anonymous and not tell them what meme I was, and people were getting upset, so I talked to my friend Ryan (real name) and we decided I should post it for the LULZ and reply to people. I was generally appreciated because it was interesting for Reddit to see a reaction from a somewhat known meme actually posting and acknowledging their existence. I am very self aware and I understand the internet better than most people.
In real life, I have been recognized on numerous occasions. I will tell you the two that are most notable ones. When I lived in Milwaukee I was at a dive bar and two guys came up to me and said, we know you’re Approval Guy, we saw your page on Encyclopedia Dramatica. So I explained the story to them and pointed out my friend Joe who I was with as the guy who took the infamous picture. They seemed pretty excited. The other time was the day after the picture was posted to failblog, I was riding the subway systems in New York (where I currently live) and there was a kid sitting across from me and he kept smiling and looking at me. He then got off the train at the stop before me and yelled APPROVAL GUY and gave me thumbs up, I sat on the train and laughed to myself and I was just amazed that someone recognized me IRL.
I have also been asked if I have ever wanted to capitalize on Approval Guy. I have not thought about it until recently, I really don’t want to make money from it, but if it happened I would not complain. I just am fascinated with the current internet culture and how memes are created. Now that I live in New York City, I feel that I will become recognized more, but it doesn’t bother me one bit. I have done alternative stand-up comedy (silly and anti-jokes), and I’m sure I can use this meme as a start in New York, but at the same time, I want to prove to people I have another side and I can be known for something else then being an internet meme. It could be an advantage and it’s a great story. I am also a big fan of the internet and in a couple years I can see myself working a job related to internet/social media/video, and being Approval Guy and having knowledge of the internet is a plus.
…My name is not a big deal, but I would appreciate it if you did not associate it with the site. Thank you.
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